Finding strength in humor. Patton Oswalt delivered a heartbreaking monologue at the New York Comedy Festival on Thursday, November 3, diving headfirst into his feelings about his wife’s sudden death in April. The performance was his first headlining show since her passing.
Oswalt, 47, spent the first half of his hourlong set joking about the elections, the Cubs’ World Series victory and taking his 7-year-old daughter, Alice, to a haunted house over the Halloween weekend, reports The Daily Beast.
However, the veteran comedian finally admitted to the audience of thousands that he was “stalling” when it came to addressing the topic on everyone’s mind. “There’s no easy way to segue into this, but six months and 12 days ago, my wife passed away,” he said. “It’s just my life, and it’s kind of all-consuming. And it sucks. It sucks.”
The King of Queens actor then touched on the different elements of his grief, including having to deal with the flowery euphemisms and the kid gloves people use to talk about those who have lost a spouse or a family member.
“If they would call it a ‘numb slog’ instead of a ‘healing journey,’ it would make it a lot f–king easier!” Oswalt said. “Because when they call it a ‘healing journey’ and it’s just a day of you eating Wheat Thins for breakfast in your underwear, it’s like, ‘I guess I’m f–king up my healing journey.’ But if they would say you’re going to have a numb slog, instead you’d go, ‘I’m nailing it!’”
Oswalt added that the day after his wife, true crime writer Michelle McNamara, died in her sleep, he had to relive the gut-wrenching moment again when he broke the news to Alice, who was at school at the time of her mother’s death.
“It was the worst f–king day of my life,” he said. “I got that out of the way. Sent any s–t my way — it’s out of the way. Worst day of my life.”
When Alice returned to school two days later, he said he was bombarded with questions from an unlikely source: his daughter’s classmates. “Monday was me taking her to school and the kids saying, ‘Were you sad when Alice’s mom died?’” he recalled. “And I was like, ‘Yes, I was. What a great question.’”
Oswalt also recounted the first time he visited McNamara’s grave since her funeral. On that September afternoon, he intended to have a “nice moment” reconnecting with her spirit like it’s often portrayed in movies, but was instead shocked by the chaos he encountered at the cemetery.
To one side of his wife’s headstone, Oswalt said, there was an Armenian family “having a screaming argument”; on the other was an “adorable” Chinese family in beach chairs eating pizza and “blaring” Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go on.”
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